Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

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What are the internal and external conflicts faced by main characters in the book The Lightning Thief ?

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Percy's internal conflicts concern his low self-esteem and difficult relationship with his father. Annabeth's internal conflicts concern her struggle to meet her own expectations and earn Athena's respect. Grover's internal conflicts concern overcoming his past and reaching his potential by earning a searcher's license. Percy and Annabeth's external conflicts concern fighting monsters and battling gods throughout the quest. Grover's external conflict concerns protecting Percy from mythological creatures and threatening gods.

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Percy Jackson's primary internal conflicts concern his insecurities regarding his own abilities and his strained relationship with his father, Poseidon. Before discovering his true identity, Percy struggles in school and is extremely insecure about his disabilities. After being diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, Percy develops self-esteem issues. As the novel progresses, Percy discovers that he was not exactly disabled; his brain was simply hard-wired to understand Greek, which explains his difficulty reading. After discovering that Poseidon is his father, Percy desperately tries to earn his father's respect and admiration. Percy struggles to form a relationship with his father and cope with his complex feelings regarding their relationship.

Percy Jackson experiences many external conflicts throughout the story as he battles intimidating monsters, Furies, and gods. With the help of Annabeth, Grover, and his sword Riptide, Percy Jackson is able to survive his quest by returning Hades's helm and the master bolt to Zeus.

Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, whose internal conflict concerns her struggle to impress her mother and live up to her high expectations. Annabeth also struggles with her decision to view Percy as either a friend or an enemy, which stems from Athena's tense relationship with Poseidon. Similar to Percy, Annabeth experiences the same external conflicts as she fights monsters and demons alongside Percy and Grover.

Grover's primary internal conflict concerns overcoming his traumatic past. Grover failed at his first assignment and struggles with self-esteem issues. He also struggles to reach his potential by earning his searcher's license. As a Satyr, Grover's primary external conflict involves protecting Percy from mythological creatures and hostile gods.

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In Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, there are three main characters: Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. Each of them has different conflicts they deal with in the text.

Percy deals with many external conflicts by doing things like learning to sword fight, mastering his Poseidon-like powers, and overcoming the minions and allies of Hades. Some of the most critical external conflicts are when Percy faces Gorgons at the beginning of his journey and when he fights against Ares, the god of war, after learning that Ares is in on the plot to cause a war between the "Big Three" gods.

Percy has some internal conflicts as well, such as his poor relationship with his father and his lack of confidence in himself. Percy has been a screw-up most of his life, but his demigod status, which is responsible for his dyslexia, ADHD, and failure in school, is kept hidden from him to protect him. He struggles with an inferiority complex through most of the book and only comes into his own through the journey of all five books in the series. He also struggles because he is angry at his father, who never contacted him, but still has to try to help him so the world won’t be launched into war.

Annabeth faces similar external conflicts to Percy, as she goes on the same adventure. She isn’t as strong physically as he is, but she uses her wits (a gift of Athena) to help overcome many of the same challenges.

Annabeth has a different internal conflict. She wants to prove herself, to make her mother proud, and to distinguish herself as a hero. She is jealous of Percy, who gets the offer of a quest, when she has been waiting for a quest for a long time. She also struggles because she knows that her feelings for Percy are against the rivalry that exists between Athena and Posiden.

Grover is unique because he is not a demigod but a Satyr. His external conflict revolves around trying to keep Percy safe through the beginning of the story and attempting to help Percy on the quest despite not being a warrior.

Internally, Grover is struggling with his failures from the past—specifically that he didn’t keep Thalia safe when bringing her to Camp Halfblood. That failure haunts him, and the possibility of failing again causes him stress throughout the adventure.

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The internal and external conflicts are wrapped up together in The Lightning Thief. Percy begins the novel as an insecure boy seen as a misfit and mess-up by most of the authority figures in his life. He has ADD and dyslexia. He feels like an outsider in his own home despite his loving relationship with his mother. However, he learns these so-called defects are actually hidden strengths that come from being a demigod: his dyslexia is a symptom of his brain being hard-wired to read ancient Greek, for example.

Percy overcomes his inner turmoil through external conflicts. During his quest to save his mother and retrieve the lightning bolt, he faces down monsters and even other gods. He realizes his own strengths and develops as a person through his trials, using his wits to defeat Medusa, for instance. By the end of the novel, Percy must even oppose Luke, an older boy he assumed was his friend and even viewed as an older brother figure.

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In The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson faces many external conflicts, primarily from Zeus, who believes that he is involved with the theft of Zeus’s lightning bolt. The other gods who side with Zeus try to hinder him at every step. Medusa, who resents Percy for his father Poseidon’s rejection of her, tries to turn him into stone to become part of her collection. In St. Louis, Percy battles the Chimera in the Arch. Hades accused Percy of stealing his Helm of Darkness. Percy eventually discovers that it is Ares, the god of war, who has the stolen items. These conflicts require Percy’s ingenuity to battle them and retrieve the lightning bolt.

Percy’s inner conflicts stem from his discovery that his father is Poseidon, who had abandoned Percy’s mother soon after Percy was born. He resents Poseidon’s desertion, leaving him to be raised by his mother and his odious step-father. It is his task to come to accept his position as a Half-Blood, even though it means his father will not always be readily available. Percy’s ADD and his dyslexia are caused by his half-god ancestry. These have caused him to have constant trouble in school. By accepting this “handicaps,” Percy learns to use them as his strengths against the outer conflicts that he faces.

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